At Mediaan Conclusion, we believe that technology makes a difference and that sustainability is also a huge difference maker for the planet’s future. Valentin Calomme, one of our AI engineers, has had sustainability on his mind for as long as he can remember, privately and at work. As a sustainability advocate, he shares his vision with those around him and encourages a positive and environmentally conscious mindset. Let’s dive into the interview as Valentin shares his thoughts on the sometimes “complicated” relationship between AI advancements and the environment.
What inspired you to start thinking sustainably, and how did that journey begin for you?
As far back as I can remember, I have always had a sustainable mindset, both in my private life and at work. The documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” made a big impression on me as a child and raised my awareness of climate change. Since then, I have been committed to leaving things better than I found them. I try to convey this mindset to the people around me with a light-hearted approach because no one likes to be told they’re doing something wrong.
How does sustainability play a role in your work at Mediaan Conclusion?
At Mediaan Conclusion, we implement sustainability through the Mediaan Green Initiative, which aligns with Conclusion’s overall approach. We also strive to promote sustainability amongst our clients through our services. We assess our practices, identify areas for improvement, and actively work to raise awareness in general.
The ‘Climate Sensor Pilot’ project at our Heerlen office is a good example of this. Under the initiative of Conclusion Cares, AMIS Conclusion equipped our office with 21 sensors to gather data continuously. The goal is to measure the energy consumption of our building. Once we figure that out, we can take certain measures, such as adjusting our heating schedule to use less energy and reduce CO2 emissions. It serves as an excellent conversation starter during internal events and generates ideas for continuous improvement. I think that’s amazing!
How do you incorporate sustainability into your work with customers?
Even though most customers prioritize cost savings, my teams often find that our solutions also have unintentional “green.” For instance, we developed a volume forecasting system for a logistics company. It optimized their delivery trucks’ usage, reducing fuel costs and ultimately leading to lower emissions. This project shows that sustainability and cost savings often go hand in hand. You often hear discussions about the downsides of AI regarding the environment. But if a customer asks us to build an AI solution that requires an energy-guzzling tool, it will cost them more money. Therefore, it is in their best interest that we develop a more sustainable alternative.
How do you practice sustainability in your everyday life?
When I moved to Amsterdam, I decided to get rid of my leased car. Let’s be clear: I am not pretending to be a good Samaritan who does everything out of the goodness of his heart. One of the reasons I gave up my car was because I had the opportunity to do so. Mediaan Conclusion has a progressive mobility policy with many alternatives. I also don’t have children to drive around, and a parking permit in the heart of Amsterdam is expensive. But in a way, getting rid of my car was the same choice as going to the supermarket and bringing a reusable tote bag. It’s a constant challenge. It’s often something I must do or at least try. But even I go to the store and sometimes buy pre-packaged products in plastic or forget my bag. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
What is the impact of all these choices, and what advice would you give those looking to make a positive difference?
Let’s face it. In the big picture, my sustainable life has little direct impact. The big change must come from the larger companies, cities, and industries. My biggest tip: see sustainability as something you can’t succeed at. After all, there is always room for improvement. Many things are also beyond your control. So, take the pressure off first and start small, like reducing food waste. All the little things add up. I see it this way: the harder we all push and lead by example, the sooner companies feel pressured to make a difference.